2006 Systemic Change Award - Madagascar
Promotion and social integration of the rejected persons in the villages of Nohona and Tanantsara, near Vohipeno in Madagascar, presented by Emeric Amyot d’Inville. French source
There is in the region of Vohipeno, Diocese of Farafangana, in Madagascar, a clan of rejected persons, societal outcasts for several centuries. Their most important villages are Nohona and Tanantsara. They are considered as dogs by the other clans of the Antaimoro tribe, as well as by other tribes. They are deeply scorned and ostracized by society. They are victims of two fundamental taboos, still very alive today, which marginalize them and foster the rejection: 1) they are not permitted to marry persons outside their clan, hence the inbreeding, and 2) no one is allowed to eat meat from an animal which they have killed. If someone from another clan breaks one of these taboos, he will fall into the same rejection and he and his family will suffer serious harm.
My predecessor at Tanjomoha, Fr. Vincent Carme, CM, (Photo of Fr. Carme and French article tried to remedy this terrible situation of exclusion. He became one of them, defying the taboos, going to live among them and staying in the little huts in two of their principal villages. He worked at their promotion through education and evangelization.
I think that there are two levers which will make the barriers of exclusion fall:
- the Gospel: I provide regular spiritual animation in these villages; moreover, I have preached short missions in these villages and in the neighboring villages. These bore fruits of reconciliation and established connections among the opposing clans.
- Education: I continue to support sewing classes in the villages, as well as the hostel for the young rejected persons in Tanjomoha, who are studying in Vohipeno. We are ready to implement a new and important educational project, the creation of a private nursery and elementary school in Tanantsara, one of the principal villages of the rejected persons.
The purpose of the Tanantsara’s primary school, like all the other educational projects mentioned above, is to make fall the barriers of exclusion and scorn, of which this clan of rejected persons is the victim:
- by offering a good scholastic education to these rejected young persons;
- by promoting, at the same time, the integration of these young people into the surrounding society.